The Curse of the Bambino was allegedly behind a long dry spell for the Boston Red Sox until the hex was removed by a stunning run to the 2004 World Series Championship. Now we're left wondering if the next drought might eventually be blamed on a fried chicken and beer jinx.
It remains to be seen if the Red Sox go 86 years without a Series crown as they did from 1918-2004, but the pressure is on for Boston to at least get back to a level of respectability, if not the playoffs. And you can bet Red Sox Nation will grow restless if the club misses the postseason again while wondering if management simply over-reacted to the shenanigans that were blamed for the collapse down the stretch in 2011.
Among the favorites to capture the 2012 American League flag, the Red Sox instead suffered their worst season in nearly 50 years. The plunge came after ownership fired manager Terry Francona and let wunderkind GM Theo Epstein depart for the Cubs. Bobby Valentine lasted just one season as manager, and new GM Ben Cherington begins 2013 already on the hot seat.
Boston freed up a lot of salary after sending Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers last August. But Cherington was unable land this offseason's two biggest free agent prizes, Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke, and he's yet to get Mike Napoli's name on an official contract. Napoli was in line for a 3-year deal in early-December before health issues put that contract on hold.
Cherington did add starting pitcher Ryan Dempster and outfielder Shane Victorino to the roster, and recently brought aboard free agent shortstop Stephen Drew along with reliever Joel Hanrahan in a trade from Pittsburgh.
That leaves the Red Sox fourth in the AL East according to the latest numbers at Bovada. Boston is currently at 25/1 to win the 2013 World Series, behind Toronto (15/2), New York (15/1) and Tampa Bay (22/1). Baltimore brings up the division's rear at 40/1.
Phillies Add Lannan And Adams To Bolster Pitching
Like the Red Sox, Philadelphia was a disappointment in 2012 after beginning the campaign at the top of the chart as +170 chalk to take the NL flag. Unlike Boston, the Phillies will take the field in 2013 with the same manager, Charlie Manuel, and with the same core of top talent on the field.
General Manager Ruben Amaro has tweaked his roster a bit this offseason, recently signing reliever Mike Adams to set up Jonathan Papelbon. Adams becomes the second ex-Texas Ranger to join the Phils after bringing in infielder Michael Young earlier in December via trade.
That deal followed another swap that landed fleet OF Ben Revere from the Twins, and just before signing Adams, Philadelphia landed former Nationals pitcher John Lannan as a free agent.
Philadelphia was listed at 28/1 to win the 2013 World Series at the beginning of the offseason, but the latest MLB odds list the Phils at 16/1 which has them even with the Braves among NL squads. The Dodgers (17/2), Nationals (9/1), Reds (12/1) and Giants (15/1) lead the National League clubs on the updated MLB futures odds.